"We knew it would be a difficult game, but we were patient to wait for more chances... in the end we did the most difficult thing in this kind of game and found a goal"- Enzo Maresca
Enzo Maresca's comments post-match illustrates the importance of this fixture in terms of the mentality around the club, as well as the outcome it could end up having on our league standings. It was a crucial fixture, we knew they would sit deep as we predicted pre-match, and yet we knew the goals could come with the right balance of attack and defence.
The King Power side ended the tie as 3-0 victors with two goals from Zambian finisher Patson Daka and one from Italian loanee Cesare Casadei. The latter of which scored after only two minutes of being on the pitch: a nice change of pace for a player under pressure for not performing previously.
Leicester City's Standout Performers
Leicester have again cruised to a win against lower-league opposition. However, it was not necessarily an easy task for the Foxes to break down a compact and extremely low block where every single player formed part of the block. Rotherham United went for the archetypical Sean Dyche double decker bus strategy.
In lieu of the win, I shall briefly outline the three standouts, and then we shall look into their game's in more depth, as well as what the result of the fixture means for the league leaders. Spoiler alert, the summit reaches ever higher.
3. Ricardo Pereira (C)
The captain continues to show what we had been missing for that multi-year spell out of the side. Neat passing, an emphasis on progression, and truly a domineering player. He may not have scored, but he certainly set the side out right from his position in this quasi midfield-fullback role.
2. Wout Faes
Unquestionably the Belgian rock of the squad. Wout Faes represents the quality the Foxes ought to have: he can position himself well, pass well, challenge well, and he looks forward or sideways rather than back. Faes again looked confident, and shows why the Italian head coach imply cannot drop the star performer.
1. Patson Daka
Two goals. What more is there to say on the matter? Nigh dejected by the head coach, a span of five matches has seen the Zambian striker find himself as the starting forward for Leicester. Finally getting game time, and finding the net consistently. Long may Daka thrive.
Statistically, Leicester City performed about as well as could have been expected. They had 11 - yes 11 - shots on target out of a total of 24 versus a measly two for the visitors. The home side also constructed around 3.10 in xG versus an equally pathetic 0.02 xG. We should have scored that many, but with luck could have scored many more (A penalty is worth 0.75xG if you were wondering).
Not to forget Leicester had the ball for 76% of the time, with most of that being in Rotherham's own half. The fixture was not a challenge this time around, it was a practice for the much tougher Boxing Day match against Ipswich. So, the analysis of why our top three are as such is simple to describe in three words, one for each player: possession, control, and finishing.
Pereira represents control. In the centre of the pitch, alongside the work of Harry Winks and Wilfred Ndidi, Pereira helps the Foxes to control the flow of the ball positively and negatively. During the Rotherham match, the Portuguese rocket gained a 96% passing accuracy, got an assist, intercepted the ball on multiple occasions, and took a couple shots. Pereira controlled how we played, and we played to win.
Faes demonstrates possession. Winning nine out of 13 duels, making five successful tackles, intercepting attacking plays twice, and successfully passing the ball around 133 times. Oh, and the Belgian defender had a shot on target. Leicester's best centre-back is a ball retention and ball winning beast, getting the ball back for the King Power club, and helping us keep it throughout.
Daka is finishing personified. There have been a couple instances of non-characteristic finishing from the striker, but the last few fixtures have shown us what we have been wanting: a confident, pacy, and clinical forward always looking to shoot. One instinctive and positional goal, one penalty converted, and four shots on target: that is what we want, that is what Daka delivered. Long may it continue.
Leicester City are not extending their lead, they are building a wall, surrounding it with a moat, and protecting it with every last bit of goal difference imaginable. With the winter transfer window still to come, Maresca's men are now six points clear at the summit, 13 from third.
With games still to play against both of the current inhabitants of those positions - one such on Boxing Day - this win could be what keeps Leicester at the top, or cements their promotion back to the promised lands. Top of the league are Leicester.